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Merry Crisis: Spending The Holidays Alone

By Sam Smith

I have spent my fair share of holidays alone. Only once by choice, and several times by circumstance (hello, retail life and living hours from home!). It can be a lonely, isolating, downright depressing thing. This time of year the pressure is on to gather, to surround ourselves with friends, family, and loved ones. But there are a myriad of reasons you might be unable to do so. Perhaps you live in a different city than those close to you, are unable to accommodate travel or guests during the season (especially with the new variant), or you just don’t feel that celebrating the holidays with others aligns with your lifestyle. There is no right or wrong way to create the holiday atmosphere that suits you best, and you can still enjoy the season and make the most of this time of year, whether you are going it alone because you want to, or have to.

The first advantage to celebrating the holiday season alone is to benefit from the rest that comes this time of year. It’s been a freaking challenging couple of years, and the holiday season comes with collective downtime. Sure, it can be a breakneck pace getting to that point, but once Christmas Eve hits, the world goes quiet. Taking the opportunity to slow down, even just for a day, can do wonders for your mental health. Take a walk outside in the snow by yourself. Look at the Christmas lights, peek into a window or two to see their tree (from the sidewalk, don’t be a creep). Take it all in, and just let yourself exist within your surroundings. Trust me, it’s nice.

Spending Christmas morning alone also means you don’t have a thousand and one presents to buy, theoretically. The hustle and bustle of a mall the week before Christmas is frantic, chaotic energy, and I, for one, am happy to participate in it as little as humanly possible. Besides, the highest expectations are placed upon the “perfect” gift, and for some of us it can even be stressful to receive gifts - social anxiety can be a fickle beast. Save the money and spend it on yourself, or put it away in a savings account. A spa day, a good book, or some stellar takeout food are some simple suggestions. Maybe get something from your favourite local low waste shop *wink wink, nudge, nudge*.

One of the less pleasant aspects of spending the holidays alone is the potential for loneliness. Being alone and being lonely are two entirely different concepts. If you find yourself rockin’ around the Christmas tree solo by circumstance, it can be a bit challenging to overcome those feelings. Staying off social media can help you avoid FOMO, seeing everyone in their matching pyjamas posing for entirely-too-perfect photos in front of their trees. Take the time to make your coffee or tea just the way you like it. Throw some Bailey’s in there if that’s your jam. Take the time to make it the day you want it to be. Watch movies all day. Eat popcorn for breakfast. PLAY SOLITAIRE. Whoever said you need more than one person to start a tradition, anyway? 

Of course, a fun alternative to the above is to just pretend like it’s a regular day. Most of us don’t mind being alone on a regular day, right? Kick your feet up and do your thing. Nothing exciting is going on anywhere else. 

If you’re feeling like the ostrich-head-in-the-sand vibe isn’t for you, you could always head to a local shelter to volunteer. Volunteering is an incredible opportunity to help create positive memories for others, especially around the holidays. There are many who require our assistance, whether it is with clothing, food, or shelter... even animals! By supporting those in need, we gain a strong sense of community and can help those during the holiday season who will be forever grateful. You just might find that it becomes your new tradition.

Welp. That’s all I got. There is no one-size-fits-all solution to celebrating a holiday alone. There is only the opportunity to explore, to create the atmosphere that is right for you and makes you feel the most fulfilled. Take the time to rest, give yourself some grace after a hard year. 

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